Hoops Preview: Buckeyes Open Big Ten Season Against Penn State

The Buckeyes (5-2, 0-0) travel to Penn State (4-3, 0-0) Sunday evening in the Big Ten opener for both programs. Penn State last played on Wednesday, losing at home to Miami (Fla.) 63-58 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Ohio State, meanwhile, comes into this game following a 71-66 win over No. 1 Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Opening Tip

Who: Ohio State at
What: Men’s Basketball
Where: State College, PA
When: Sunday, 7:30 (BTN)
Why: Because Ohio State is a basketball school.
Line: Ohio State -5, O/U 130.5

The Buckeyes

Buckeye Game Notes

  • Ohio State comes in on a high, having knocked-off No. 1 Duke 71-66 last Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. That was the program’s 10th win over a No. 1 ranked team and it was the third consecutive win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the Buckeyes. Following it’s win over No. 1 Duke on Nov. 30, Ohio State is now 10-11 all time vs. the No. 1 ranked team in the AP poll. The Buckeyes are 7-5 at home vs. the No. 1 team. In fact, the last six times OSU has played No. 1, it has been played at Value City Arena. Overall, the Buckeyes have won eight of the last 11 meetings with the No. 1 ranked team. That streak dates back to a 90-84 overtime victory over No. 1 Duke in the ECAC Holiday Classic in New York on Dec. 29, 1978.
  • E.J. Liddell is third in the conference in points per game at 21.3 ppg. He has four games of 20 or more points and is coming off a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double in the win over Duke. He is also among the national leaders in blocks per game as he is averaging nearly four blocks per contest. He has led the team in scoring in every game but one, including a career-high 29 vs. Niagara on Nov. 12. He has blocked multiple shots in six of seven games, including a career-high eight at Xavier on Nov. 18. He leads the Big Ten in blocked shots per game (3.71) and is sixth nationally.
  • Transfer guard Cedric Russell had a bit slow start to the season but shined in the win over Duke. He was 3-of-3 from long range, including a key three-pointer with 2:32 left. He also grabbed the final rebound and sealed the win with two free throws. Russell finished with 12 points after having just three points on the year entering the night.

The Penn State Nittany Lions

What You Need To Know

  • Ohio State owns a 41-19 lead in the all-time series, but Penn State has faired far better at home, sitting at 10-15 all-time when playing the Buckeyes in Happy Valley. OSU has won four of the last five meetings, and six of the last 10. The Buckeyes swept last year’s regular-season meetings. Of those last 10 contests, one was a 32-point loss on the road, but the other nine contests were decided by an average of just six points. The Nittany Lions’ last win over the Buckeyes came on Jan. 18, 2020, a 90-76 win inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
  • The Nittany Lions made just an average of 5.0 three-pointers per game it their first three games of the season, but have since averaged 11.3 treys per contest over Penn State’s last four games. Penn State made a program-record tying 15 3-pointers in its win over Cornell on Nov. It has happened twice before, against Purdue in 2001 (2/7/01) and again against Hartford in 2008 (11/20/08). The Nittany Lions entered that game not having made more than six three-pointers in a contest this season. Senior Myles Dread has contributed a team-best 11 three-pointers over the last four games, while senior Jalen Pickett and junior Seth Lundy have each added nine.
  • Penn State’s defense has held each of its last four opponents 10-plus points under their season scoring averages. Penn State held three of its first six opponents under 60 points, and four of its first six foes under 60 points in regulation — LSU scored 58 in regulation and finished with 68 including overtime. The last time the Nittany Lions held three of their first six foes under 60 points was the 2017-18 season (Fairleigh Dickinson 57, Montana 57 and Pittsburgh 54). You’d have to go back to the 2010-11 season to find the last time Penn State kept four of its first six opponents under 60 in regulation, when the Nittany Lions limited Lehigh (56), Saint Joe’s (57), Fairfield (49) and Furman (49) to under 60 in 40 minutes of play. Penn State went on to make an NCAA Tournament appearance that season.
  • Penn State’s eight newcomers, seven of whom have played college basketball at their previous schools, combine to bring 4,332 career points to Happy Valley, which is believed to rank fourth in the nation in 2021-22 incoming transfer class scoring.
    Penn State Player ………. Previous School ………. Career Points
    Jaheam Cornwall ………. Gardner-Webb (DI) ……….1,213
    Jalen Pickett ………. Siena (DI) ………. 1,139
    Greg Lee ………. Western Michigan (DI) ……… 730
    Jalanni White ……… Canisius (DI) ………. 497
    Jevonnie Scott ………. South Plains (JC) ………. 454
    Dan Conlan ………. Dickinson (D3) ………. 272
    Irekefe Oweh ………. Thomas Aquinas (D2) ………. 27
    Ishaan Jagiasi ………. Did not play college basketball
  • Penn State’s returning veteran trio of John Harrar, Seth Lundy and Sam Sessoms lead the way for the Nittany Lions through the first seven games of the season. The trio of returning Nittany Lions has combined for 59.4 percent of Penn State’s scoring production (280 of 471 points) while shooting a combined 53.5 percent (106-of198) from the field. Harrar, Lundy and Sessoms are also contributing 58.7 percent (152 of 260) of Penn State’s rebounding. Graduate student John Harrar currently leads the Big Ten and ranks 10th in Division I with 10.9 rebounds per game through the first seven contests. Harrar is averaging a double-double with 10.6 points and 10.9 boards per contest. The Wallingford, Pa. native has tallied three double-doubles thus far, pulled down double-digit rebounds in five of seven contests, and is shooting a blistering 75.0 percent (30-40) from the field. Harrar is coming off a 2020-21 season that saw him earn All-Big Ten Honorable Mention laurels as he led the team with 8.8 rebounds per game and a 54.9 field goal percentage. Senior Sam Sessoms has stepped into a larger role this season and currently ranks second on the team with 14.3 points and 3.57 assists per game. Sessoms put together his best two games in a Penn State uniform against Cornell on Nov. 22 and St. Francis Brooklyn on Nov. 18 The Philadelphia native drilled six of seven 3-point attempts and finished with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists in Penn State’s victory over Cornell. He tallied a game-high 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting and a 6-for-7 clip from the charity stripe against St. Francis Brooklyn. The two 20-plus point efforts were the 29th and 30th of his career, but first two in a Penn State uniform. He registered his first double-double in a Penn State uniform against LSU on Nov. 26 at the Emerald Coast Classic, chipping in 13 points and a team-best 10 rebounds against the Tigers. Junior Seth Lundy leads the team with 15.1 ppg in addition to his 6.0 rpg that ranks second on the squad. Lundy notched his fifth and sixth-career 20-point games in the season opener against Youngstown State and on Nov. 22 against Cornell. Lundy has scored in double figures in six of seven games this season and has led the Nittany Lions in scoring in three games thus far. He went off for 30-plus points on two occasions during his sophomore season – 32 vs. VCU on Dec. 2, 2020 and 31 at Maryland on March 7, 2021.